The passing of Religion Professor, Roy Bowen Ward

To Our Miami University Family,

It is with great sadness that the 1809 LGBT Alumni Board announces the passing of Religion Professor Dr. Roy Bowen Ward on Sunday, May 20, 2012.  With his death we have lost a great person and family member—a critical catalyst who propelled the Miami University LGBT Community forward, making it much stronger today than would have been imagined possible back in the 1980s when GLA was first founded.

Jeff Logel ’89, member of the 1809 LGBT Alumni Board, voices the sentiment of the Board.  In citing Audre Lorde, Jeff says what many of us feel:

"I have come to believe over and over again that what is not important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood."

Roy Ward challenged Jeff and others to find their voice.

"He challenged me to speak up, strongly and loudly, even when I knew the consequences would be 'bruising or misunderstood.' I will never be silent.  Silence equals death.  The personal is political.  A strong voice and even stronger politics destroy the vacuum allowing others to blaze trails of justice.  Let me be clearly understood—Roy taught me never to fear again."

A small summary of Roy's commitment to Miami includes the following:

  • In August 1986, Linda Singer and Roy Bowen Ward taught the first course directly and explicitly about gay and lesbian issues on the Miami campus.  The course, entitled "The Homosexual and Lesbian Experience," championed a campus of inclusion and a voice for LGBT acceptance.
  • In September 1986, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GLA), which now exists as Spectrum, formed on the Miami University campus and was recognized as a student group.  Roy Bowen Ward, Professor of Religion, affiliate in Women's Studies, and History, served as the first faculty adviser to the newly formed group.  Roy was the only faculty/staff member willing to serve in this role—for which he received much verbal and written harassment.  His bravery ensured a vibrant LGBT student group from 1986 to the present—we owe so much to Roy!  He was always such a force for social justice and will be missed by so many.

In his honor, the Miami University 1809 LGBT Alumni Association annually awards a $1,000 scholarship in his name.

There will be a memorial service on Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. in the Sesquicentennial Chapel on Miami's campus.  Roy's four children will be attending.  Please spread the word, and hopefully you can join Jeff Logel and other members of the 1809 LGBT Alumni Board at the memorial.

The 1809 LGBT Alumni Association will also be honoring Dr. Ward during our reception on Saturday, June 16, 2012 during Alumni Weekend.  The reception will be from 2-4 p.m. in the Resource Room of the Women’s Center and Office of GLBTQ Services in 206 MacMillan Hall.  If your plans include returning to Miami for Alumni Weekend—and we hope they do—please join us to pay tribute to Roy through pictures, stories and spending time with friends.  If you are unable to attend, please feel free to share your stories and/or memories of Roy with Co-Chairs Andy Zeisler (zeisleja@muohio.edu) and/or Amy Greenbaum (amy@amygreenbaum.com), and we will make sure that your voice is shared.

In shared grief,

1809 LGBT Alumni